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Bison staying in Yellowstone this winter

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP)--Only one bison has been shot by a hunter after wandering out of Yellowstone National Park this winter, park officials said.

Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash says the park's 3,000 bison are staying within park boundaries so far, despite the snow and cold.

"We have not seen any real movement," he said.

Last year, 1,087 bison were shipped to slaughter as part of a program to prevent the spread of brucellosis to cattle. Another 166 were shot by hunters and American Indian tribes and more than 400 died naturally of winter related causes.

The only bison shot by a hunter this winter was a bull taken on the first day of the season in the Gardiner area.

Montana issues 44 either-sex licenses for its three bison seasons that run from Nov. 15 through Feb. 15. Hunters are also placed on a waiting list to kill up to 100 bison cows and calves if more than 60 bison migrate outside the park.

"I probably talk to 10 bison hunters a week, some of them over and over again," said Mel Frost, information officer for Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Bozeman. "I think people get excited when they get a tag, and it's seriously disappointing and frustrating when there is no opportunity."

Mike Mease with Buffalo Field Campaign attributed the lack of bison migration this year to last year's slaughter.

"When you kill 1,600 animals and put 122 in quarantine, you don't have the kind of migration that you usually do," Mease said.

The bison population has recovered from large slaughters in the past. More than 1,000 bison were killed during the winters of 1996-97 and 2005-06.

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